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The Deaf in Sports:
By Ryan Beard
April 26, 2017
The Deaf in Sports
The California School of the Deaf football program was recently featured on ESPN. They take on public and prep schools from all over the central valley. How does a school of students with a supposed disability continue to come out on top? The playbooks, film study, signals, weight and skill training are not forgotten for this hard working Eagle team. Deaf athletes are truly not to be underestimated.
With the loss of hearing, deaf athletes although with many ways of overcoming the challenge they face, are still discriminated against by some coaches and fellow team mates.
The story of Pierce Phillips published on May 3, 2011 by Joseph Santoliquito. Pierce played baseball for his high school as a senior in Blackwood, New Jersey. His parents sought out to not let the fact that he was deaf define him in his athletics. Mr. and Mrs. Phillips familiarized themselves with deaf culture and learn sign language to better understand and communicate with their son. Pierce not feeling hindered, due to support from his parents went out and participated in many sports and activities. Support is key for any player deaf or not to become the best athlete they can be. Pierce finished his senior year with a batting average of .425 and carrying a solid 3.7 GPA. having success is both athletic and academic fronts many people assumed it would be easy to get into a college playing baseball. He was invited to camps and by college coaches to come play, this is when the Phillips family experienced ignorance and was not contacted after the coaches found out about Pierces loss of hearing.
The Eagles of the California School of the Deaf have faced the problems that the Phillips family had faced. “I remember growing up I often wanted to play out on the playground, and I would often be excluded or not given the opportunity to play first. Maybe some other kids would be chosen ahead of me or for whatever reasons, and I feel that they didn’t respect me as a person — as a deaf person — so with that I sometimes feel as an athlete I’m always saying, ‘Come on, it’s me against the world,’ sometimes, but it makes me more focused and more intense. Driven. I want to win. I’m here now, and I’m here to make a statement and show that I can play, I can compete, and I can do whatever you try to do. So, maybe some deaf kids here feel that same way.” says athletic director Kevin Kovacs to Sports Illustrated. Do the student athletes of CSD have an advantage rather than a disadvantage like most of the world would assume?
Football is very much a mental game, under bright lights, with distracting fans cheering for and against you. For the average football player it is hard to focus. The cancellation of sound to distract from the game taking place it almost becomes now just you and the man you are set to guard. The drive and focus that the Eagles bring to the field is extraordinary and is why deaf athletes can perform at high expectations.
Although Deaf athletes have drive and determination, playing on a team of people who can hear can be confusing. How is this to be overcome? you‘ll need a willing and able coach like the Seahawks coach Peter Carroll coaching the first deaf person to play in the NFL Derrick Coleman. Coleman used hearing aids but they were unreliable and often had feedback from screaming fans but that didn’t stop him. Using picture cards and motions to signal plays worked great but when Derek Carr, Quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, had to change the play on the field an adjustment had to be made. For deaf athletes and their hearing counterparts it is tough to adjust but as time goes on with support and patience those players become great teammates and key players.
Brohrbach. (2015, Oct. 7) California School for the Deaf football gets national spotlight. Usa today high school sports. Usa today sports. Retrieved 25, April. 2017 <http://usatodayhss.com/2015/california-school-for-the-deaf-football-gets-national-spotlight>
Santoliquito, Joseph. (2011, May 03)Pierce Phillips is deaf, but can see baseball success. Maxpreps. Retrieved 25, April. 2017 <http://www.maxpreps.com/news/TzvmYXU6EeCkhgAcxJSkrA/pierce-phillips-is-deaf,-but-can-see-baseball-success.htm>
Deafness in Athletics. DeafandHoH.com. Retreived 25, April. 2017 <http://www.deafandhoh.com/deafness_athletics.html>
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